9 Days of Green: Repair & Maintain

"They don't make them like they used to."

How many times have you heard this phrase, let along said it. I tend to think a lot of my green ideas are abstract and this one is no different. If something is broke fix it.

This opinion was developed over my time as a manufacturing engineer and as a amateur bicycle mechanic. Repair stuff that is broken and maintain what is not. You want some of your home bills to stay down, maintain you HVAC system. Old or new these systems run more efficiently with clean filters, fans, and sensors. Have an old car that runs well, try adding synthetic motor oil with the next oil change, you may be surprised what your gas mileage is afterward. Bicycles can run and run as long as they are cleaned every year. Heck your home has probably needed an update here or there, did you throw your home away or did you get that new roof, added insulation, or paved driveway.

It is really simple and probably an afterthought that we need to repair things when they break down. I know that after moving into this house my washing machine and garage door opener failed on me. Myself or my girlfriend was ready to purchase something new, thankfully we didn't because a couple of trips to the parts center and some elbow grease later, we had everything up and working. By keeping what we have running, working, and used, it is one less thing to throw away fill up a landfill, or use energy to melt down, not to mention all of the resources and energy to produce a new product.

Electronics are probably my most hated product in terms of maintenance and repair. Most electronics are not very repairable, can require a significant understanding of circuits, can become obsolete rather quickly, and may have the worst warranties in the business. I wouldn't know what to tell you to do with them other than use them as long as you can before your needs change or the machine dies. I know a lot of people know how to repair old radio tuners and kitchen electronics, but the ratio of those compared to the number of tossed equipment definitely isn't favorable.

When faced with the dreaded repair versus buy new arguments, think of it this way. First, what will the life of my product be if I do this repair? Second, what will be the total cost of purchasing and using the new equipment? Then, compare the results. My dad kept cars way past their prime, his reasoning was sure this repair costs a lot but it is cheaper than car payment. I always thought that was a good argument. Realize too that simply maintaining equipment constantly will keep things running longer than you would ever think is really possible. Whether it is a repair or simple maintenance, continued usage of your old stuff can keep numerous other materials and resources safe from harming the environment.


David Csonka said...

While a lot of electronics are not easily repairable, in my family, we try not to throw away anything that may be used by somebody else down the line. I usually end up being the one who gets the hand-me-downs, but they are free, so I don't complain TOO much. :D

Mike said...

New cars are expensive these days. I'm keeping my cars until they blow up.

My dad kept cars way past their prime, his reasoning was sure this repair costs a lot but it is cheaper than car payment.

I remember when fixing one's car used to be a simple task, and almost everyone was backyard mechanic.

While autos have improved greatly over the years, so has their complexity. I miss the simplicity of older model autos.